It’s early in the week and all you can do is wait for the weekend to get here. Well, it’s not all you can do. You can daydream and plan and tell others about the awesome plans you have made. You can trudge through the mundane job before you, with the hope of something better to come; whether it be the lake, the beach, a date or a night out with friends. This is how we live our weeks. Ease of labor is made possible by the promise of a break from it. Monday through Friday we walk through the valley of the shadow of work and school. When Friday comes, we enjoy the good news of the clock, world without end. Till then, we manage by enjoying happy hours, long lunches and a good film but we are wanting something else entirely different from the work week.
The Gospel of Something Else Entirely
And we most likely have a spirituality in the same vein. We eagerly await doing spiritual things and being involved with spiritual enterprises. We look to the future. We look away to something outside of what we are doing. Regardless of where we are and what we happen to be doing, we must wait for something else or be somewhere else to have a spiritually significant moment. It is here, we are believing the gospel of something else entirely.
There is one understandable reason for this. The gospel is in fact something else entirely. It is entirely outside of our opinions, for the good news of the Kingdom is out there regardless of our belief in it. Also, the gospel is the message of God working and rescuing and changing us because we cannot do it ourselves.
But there is also a problem here. The “gospel of something else entirely” steals the significance of now and here. Now gives way to later. Here loses out to there. The present moment and the place where that moment passed are stamped with insignificance. The significance of here and now are relegated to the credit of those who only saw them previously as later and there.
I buy the bread for communion. And I buy it from a big box store on my way to where our church meets on Sunday Mornings. It is easy for me to focus on the fact I am getting bread for communion which will take place a few hours later than when I buy it. What is not easy for me to focus on, are the moments strung together as I am buying the loaf of bread. How do I respond to and think about the sleepy “greeter” who barely acknowledges my existence as I enter the store. Am I thankful for the cool air of the store. Do I stand in wonder at all the food before me? Do I long for everyone to get the heck out of my way so I can get there? There. There is where the importance lies.
This is no call for navel-gazing guilt. What I am after is a life of moment-by-moment significance. I’m after good news of the Mark 1:15 sort. The Kingdom of God is at hand. I am part of this kingdom. I am not waiting to be part of it when I die. I am not more a part of it when I am in church listening to a sermon or eating this bread. When I buy the bread – any bread – I am involved in transactions which are Kingdom transactions.
This changes everything. No longer is the gospel the promise of something else entirely. It is now the message of now. Now you are redeemed. Now you are living as a member of the Kingdom. You are disciplining your child, taking a bath, paying bills and cutting grass as a member of the Kingdom of God and of his Christ. And the reason this changes everything is because now everything is now part of this life in the Kingdom.
Every mundane moment sitting uncomfortably between those of ecstasy, spiritual or otherwise is now worthy of attention. It is no longer necessary to live on the fumes of the spiritual high that was or look forward to a future hit, we have now the fellowship of the King. Every act is now of Kingdom consequence.
Sure, there will be times when “getting this” will be like finding needles in haystacks or pulling teeth. But this is when I think the message of the gospel for now – this moment – is singularly good news. It does not only offer promises of the future but holds out promise for now, even now when you cannot see the goodness of the news, it is still present. “You are still loved by the King.”
If it is true the Kingdom is at hand then we had better get rid of the “gospel of something else entirely.” The gospel of “going to heaven and not hell” and the “gospel of feeling great while listening to sermons and worship songs” is woefully inadequate.
I agree, it is great news, we, followers of Jesus are not going to hell and instead are promised a glorious eternal existence. And I’ve nothing against enjoying sermons and worship songs…well some worship songs. But one is a gospel dealing with only later and the other leaves me in the position of experiencing the indwelling presence of my God at Church or if I have my headphones handy. What about now? While I am eating with my family? Sitting in the library? Mopping the floor? Doing homework? Shopping for a new belt?
When people would walk away from the Christian faith, I used to find it odd. And it is still compelling and lovely enough for me to be astonished. However, now I do wonder. I wonder why they would stay if the faith they are adhering to is all about something else entirely. Oh, your faith can be about now, if you give your life to Jesus fully and go oversees to tell others about him. Or go into full-time ministry as a pastor. But, if you’re a banker or doctor or a barista, well, you only get Sundays (maybe Wednesday nights), the drive home if you listen to Christian music and the annual missions trip. But there is nothing for the bulk of our lives. They are unspiritual, which must mean they are devoid of the Spirit of Christ, our King…our Savior. Our friend. What happened to all the good news? A life of millions of millions of moments that are of no consequence is terrible news.
I advise no one to walk away. But what I do advise is a rejection of the gospel of something else entirely – the gospel which has nothing to do with all the times and places which are not typically called ‘spiritual.’ I enthusiastically advise a rejection of any gospel which demeans the day-in and day-out labors of homemakers, who must scrape up last night’s mac-n-cheese off the floor, courtesy of the resident toddler, by suggesting such a thing is not of eternal consequence. When in fact, they are pushing back the fall, itself.
Profound and I like it. A lot. Thank you for this good word, Matt!
Wow. I find myself encouraged each time I read your writing. I look forward to the next post (while still living in and enjoying the "now" of course….)